As I walk through the bookstore on a busy Saturday I can’t help but think about the print industry and the effect technology has had on the different segments. Why has the Internet all but killed the newspaper business, yet the print versions of books are still thriving even with the growing popularity of e-books? In the early 2000’s I was working in the newspaper business and even at that time, before iPads, Kindles, nooks and all the other e-readers, we knew the newspaper industry was in dire straits. Why then hasn’t the printing of books followed that of the newspaper industry? Well there are a lot of legal reasons that have to do with copywrite issues and distribution channels, but I decided to ask people who read actual, physical books because, as is well documented, I prefer the latest and greatest gadgets.
The one person whom I have yet to convert to a complete digital lifestyle to my dismay is my wife, Andrea. Andrea is an avid reader and although my iPad sits not 10 feet away from her on the nightstand, she’s still married to physical books. Although Andrea doesn’t typically like talking tech we agreed to just sit and discuss why we liked reading in such different ways. Now, the simple fact that you are reading this article on this website, leads me to believe you have a technological mindset so, let’s start with why I like digital books.
The biggest benefit to digital books for me is the ability to purchase them instantaneously. When discussing good books with friends and family I find I will download a digital book much sooner than I would go buy a physical version. Frankly, if I had to go to a book store to buy a book, 90% of those suggestions would go unpurchased and unread. It’s just so much easier to download my selection during the discussion from the iTunes or Kindle Store. The ease of transport is another reason I enjoy reading digital books rather than physical books. I can carry a hundred books with me on my iPad and it still only weighs 1.6 pounds. Finally, the ease of bookmarking and highlighting important passages is ultra easy on an e-reader as I don’t have to find an appropriate highlighter, not to mention once I highlight in a book it’s there forever whereas I can always modify digital highlights.
So with my benefits outlined, I reluctantly anticipate my wife’s reply to why she likes physical books. Andrea proceeds to tell me: “ I like the feel of the pages and turning them. It makes me feel like I am making progress. I like the smell of books and putting them on the shelf when I complete it, like a trophy.” I inquisitively look at her and ask what else, and to my surprise she enjoys actually going to the bookstore and browsing the aisles of books. I always thought of that as a time waster, but apparently it is extremely relaxing for people. I thought for sure there had to be more but that was all. I’m not sure what else I expected but I expected more, I mean really “I like the feel of the pages”? Oddly enough, while at a dinner party this weekend, I spoke to others that like physical books and they mentioned the same exact reasons as my wife.
Many of us are tech geeks and want digital content while others prefer traditional books, but digital and paper can live together harmoniously in your life. Whether you prefer digital content or like the feel of paper between your fingers it’s important to enjoy the process. So whatever form you like your content, consume more of it, expand you mind and realize that although technology marches on, there is something to be said about tradition.